"...and HER stomach looks like a road map."
I nodded in a polite way, maybe raised my eyebrows a little, as if to meet his displeasure of what this woman's stomach apparently looked like to him.
It was my husband's boss after all. The first time I was meeting him, right after I had finished a delicious, expensive dinner on him.
He had just found out I was pregnant with triplets and after the normal oohs and ahhs about how crazy our life was about to become, he was suddenly concerned about how I was going to keep stretch marks at bay.
He mentioned coconut oil and how one of his daughters (I think...I don't remember the relation to the women he brought up, I just remember it made me uncomfortable) had used it during her entire pregnancy and didn't get one stretch mark. But his daughter-in-law (???) didn't do one thing and HER stomach looks like a road map.
He then told Chris he would pick some up for me at this health food store he frequents and bring it to the office the next day.
First of all, let's just skip the part where he has intimate details on the condition of these women's midriffs. Really. Weird.
But can we focus on the fact that a MAN was having this conversation with me? Remember how men don't get pregnant? Remember how a man has never experienced labor pains, child birth or the lovely weeks after delivery where every place on your body that is able to leak some kind of fluid does? Or being so large where you can't get up without rolling from side to side to gain momentum. Or your extremities going numb. Like unable to pour a gallon of milk numb. Or the swelling that causes your face, feet and hands to be unrecognizable. Or being so chock full of hormones you cry and accuse your clothes hamper of trying to sabotage your life because it is never empty. (There are literally hundreds of pregnant maladies I could list...)
Remember how a man doesn't feel the extreme highs of creating another life followed by the lowest lows of not wanting to leave your house for weeks? Remember how men don't experience that societal pressure of being sexy before, during and after pregnancy? Tabloid headlines will never have pictures of how great DAD looks only weeks after his wife gives birth. Remember?
But Sir, let's make this conversation about being pregnant with triplets all about the worry of stretch marks. Please.
Present tense Kara is writing this rant. Kara of September, 2012. Kara of September 2009 was a little less brash. 2009 Kara was not bombarded with the craziest comments from friends and strangers about the experience of having triplets. Before comments of people telling me they would rather die than be pregnant with triplets. Or have three toddlers. Or say "oops, I bet that wasn't supposed to happen," when referring to my latest pregnancy. Or say, "isn't there some kind of rule that you are supposed to stop having kids after triplets?" (The guy cracked himself up at that one. Hilarious, tactful stranger. So funny.)
2009 Kara was before I found my voice of bravery for the sake of my children. They will after all, hear and read these stories and no doubt have things said to their face when people find out their unique birthday situation. They must always know how grateful I am for every single day I have with them.
So if Kara 2012 was sitting at dinner in 2009, I would've said, "Yea, everyone is concerned about different things, but I'm just hoping that all my babies are healthy and I can carry them as long as I can."
Or maybe, "Every stretch mark that every woman has or will have is a Purple Heart in the complex world of being a woman. We are bombarded at every angle about our body image and what we think we should look like, what the world thinks we should look like and what we think the world thinks we should look like. We are told we don't have enough kids. We are told we have too many. We are told we are too fat, too thin, too ugly, too pretty and usually by people who don't know or care about us. But some broken switch in us takes in every criticism and compliment with a giant magnifying glass. We are never enough. So for you to turn this conversation about me housing three miracles of God's creation into how my stomach is going to look after, is borderline blasphemous and undoubtedly insulting. (dramatic pause) Thanks for dinner by the way."
But Kara three years ago, nodded and smiled and thanked him for his concern. (Gag.)
Full disclosure: (because you always deserve it) I did accept his coconut oil gift and used it. And I actually never did get stretch marks with the kidlets, although I thought I did. But really, I'm not convinced it was the coconut oil, nor do I want this post to be about stretch mark prevention.
Because I have stretch marks now. I carried this new baby of mine to 39 healthy, sometimes miserable, always exhausting weeks. He was 2 pounds heavier than the triplets combined weight at birth. And although I winced a little when I realized these purple lines were here to stay, (those societal ideals are tough to shake) I thought of that conversation at dinner years ago. It made me refocus where my priorities really are and, in a way that only a healthy, big baby, born to a once quivering mother of three pre-mature infants can do--I was grateful for those permanent scars.
I don't see a road map. I see life and hope. I see an able vessel where four separate and beautiful miracles have occurred. I don't have a road map. I have a reminder that I'm one of the lucky ones.
Did she really just this picture? Believe it. Just doing my part to free women everywhere of the irrelevant concerns we should have during pregnancy and focus on what really matters. After all, I know plenty of women warriors who would move heaven and earth, go to hell and back and be covered in stretch marks if it meant the end result was cuddling a little one of their own.